The NFL rookie draft generally produces a few solid fantasy performers each year, but it also has a big impact on veteran players. Dynasty league keepers can lose their value in a hurry if the draft is used to bring competition in at their position.
This year, there were some major surprises in the draft with some teams ignoring major needs and others loading up on certain positions unexpectedly. The Bills chose to ignore the quarterback position while the 49ers loaded up along the offensive line which has to make Frank Gore owners a happy bunch.
There’s one team that is heavily represented here and if you guessed it’s because their general manager ignored his team’s obvious needs, you hit the nail on the head.
Frank Gore , RB, San Francisco—Not only did the 49ers address the right tackle position with the addition of Anthony Davis, they went one step further and added guard Mike Iupati. Gore’s fantasy prognosis was looking good but now it’s looking even better. Put him down as your fifth rated running back.
Jason Campbell , QB, Oakland—Campbell was going to sit behind Donovan McNabb in Washington and his trade to the Raiders will likely result in him starting in Oakland with JaMarcus Russell likely being released, possibly this week.
While all Raiders offensive players are justifiably viewed with scepticism by fantasy footballers, it’s worth noting that Bruce Gradkowski averaged 21.5 points per game during the three starts that he played the entire game and Charlie Frye had a nice game and a half run before inexplicably getting yanked at halftime of the Ravens game during Week 17. Just saying it’s worth filing away. Campbell could surprise.
Trent Edwards , QB, Buffalo—Edwards lucks out with Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey being the only two people on the face of the earth not agreeing that the Bills need an upgrade at quarterback. Unless, of course, a seventh round pick can be expected to contribute right away. Remarkable.
Pierre Thomas , RB, New Orleans—The Saints never got around to taking a running back like many had thought they would, so Thomas is entrenched as the starter with Lynell Hamilton likely spelling him and maybe getting some of the goal-line work.
LenDale White , RB, Seattle—Rather than fight for scraps behind Chris Johnson , White gets reunited with his former college coach Pete Carroll with the Seahawks. He will likely get the early down and goal line work with Justin Forsett handling the receiving role until Leon Washington is healthy.
Mike Wallace , WR, Pittsburgh—The Steelers waited until the third round to take a wide receiver, settling on Emmanuel Sanders who doesn’t have the size to play outside. Translation—Wallace doesn’t have any competition for his starting spot.
David Garrard , QB, Jacksonville—We keep hearing about how Garrard’s not good enough to win with, but the Jaguars would rather draft defensive tackles that most people haven’t heard of. To each their own.
Michael Jenkins , WR, Atlanta—Jenkins hasn’t done much of anything and yet the Falcons never seem too interested in replacing him. Fifth round pick Kerry Meier is a possession receiver who is likely better suited to backup duty.
Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie , WR, Cleveland—Massaquoi was decent last year while Robiskie was a disaster. However, the Browns failed to acquire any veterans through free agency and then waited until the sixth round to take Carlton Mitchell from South Florida. Of course, they still have Jake Delhomme chucking it in 2010 so even though Massaquoi and Robiskie are “winners” for this article, all Browns receivers should be avoided.
James Hardy and Steve Johnson , WR, Buffalo—Despite the fact these two players have combined for 22 receptions, 208 yards and four touchdowns in two years, the Bills didn’t draft a wide receiver until the fourth round when they took Marcus Easley. Of course, they still have Trent Edwards chucking it in 2010 so all Bills receivers except Lee Evans should be avoided. The Bills-Browns don’t entirely understand the whole NFL is a copycat league concept.
Fred Jackson , RB, Buffalo—Gailey to Nix: “Let’s check out the offensive depth chart. No quarterback, no left tackle, no second receiver, a veteran retread at right tackle and two solid running backs in Jackson and Marshawn Lynch .” Nix: “Okay, let’s draft C.J. Spiller.” The wheels on the bus go round and round, all the live long day…
Roy Williams , WR, Dallas—The Cowboys give up a first, a third and a sixth to get Williams and then draft Dez Bryant in the first round. So, their number two wide receiver will end up costing two firsts, a third and a sixth. Sound decision-making. Unless Williams is traded, he isn’t worth owning long-term in fantasy leagues.
Steve Slaton , RB, Houston—The Texans were expected to take a running back in the draft but Slaton owners were hoping it was a lower round selection without the pedigree of Ben Tate. No such luck.
Kevin Smith , RB, Detroit—With Smith coming off a late season torn ACL and the Lions not enamored with his big play ability, the pre-draft line was that they would look to acquire a scat back in the mid-rounds. Unfortunately for Smith, they decided to trade into the back end of the first round in order to select Jahvid Best, who would have been taken much higher if he didn’t have injury concerns.
Jerome Harrison , RB, Cleveland—I was never sold on Harrison and the Browns weren’t either, hence the trade up in the second round to acquire Montario Hardesty. Let others take the veteran in your fantasy drafts while you use a late round pick on Hardesty.
Matt Moore , QB, Carolina—The Panthers told anybody who would listen they were comfortable with Moore as their starter. Then they went out and drafted not one, but two quarterbacks in the draft, adding Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike.
Julius Jones , RB, Seattle—With LenDale White and Leon Washington joining the depth chart and Justin Forsett earning a minimum salary, there’s no reason for the Seahawks to keep Jones and his bloated contract on the roster.
Darren Sproles , RB, San Diego—Sure, he’s a loser with the addition of Ryan Mathews, but the addition of a running back in the draft came as no surprise.
Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Stokley , WR, Denver—Demaryius Williams and Eric Decker were added in the draft and head coach Josh McDaniels has said Eddie Royal will have an increased role in 2010. One of these guys is likely to be cut with the other relegated to keeping a seat warm for the younger guys.